Photo courtesy of blondiemcl under creative commons Attribution license. Copyright © 2012
When you think of pets, you probably think of the standard dogs and cats. But how often does your mind come to the cockroach? Madagascar’s hissing cockroach is a very popular exotic pet in the U.S. and is one of the most bizarre.
The island of Madagascar, as their name suggests, is where these cockroaches call home. The other obvious fact about these roaches is their unique ability to hiss. This unusual sound results from the expulsion of air from their breathing holes, located on the underside of their abdomen. There are various uses for the hiss; one use is a distress call, when the roach is startled and attempts to scare off any potential threats. The hiss can also be used to attract a female mate, and will come into play during a “hissing battle,” in which male roaches fight for a mate.
Unlike most other roaches, these little guys don’t have wings; instead, they are excellent climbers. When fully grown, they range from two to four inches long, in addition to being about an inch wide. Some of the features of the roach vary depending on its gender; females sport slim antennas while the male antennas are typically much thicker.
The roaches are easily maintained and fairly inexpensive, which makes them suitable pets for children and adults alike. They do, however, require living areas with space for them to move around and things to climb on. Most roach owners also include a darkened area, as the bugs are known to dislike the light. For food, the roaches typically live off of vegetables or any kind of pellet, including dog food. And although they may seem gross these exotic pets don’t take up too much space, so they are the perfect low maintenance apartment pet.